Crackdown 3 Review – Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Crackdown 3 Review

We’ve done our waiting, five years of it! Five years that unfortunately have me questioning if it was all worth it. Admittedly, this is the first Crackdown game I’ve sunk more than a few hours into, so I can’t attest to whether or not it’s the proper follow-up to the original from 2007. The good news is I’ve genuinely had some mindless fun with Crackdown 3 as I’ve leapt across the rooftops of skyscrapers, blasted thousands of goons, and massacred the infrastructure of a vile corporation. However, the colorful world, level of freedom, and even Terry Crews can’t remedy the game’s sense of monotony and lack of innovation.

In traditional series fashion, Crackdown 3 takes place in a sprawling fictional city. This time around, you’re in New Providence, a metropolis constructed on a lonely island by the TerraNova Corporation intended to the control the influx of refugees fleeing their hometowns after a series of blackout attacks. Intel suggests it’s a viper’s nest chock-full of gangsters, psychopaths, and butchers. The Agency confirms that the hard way as they’re brutally wiped out while in route to the city. As the lone survivor, it’s up to you to infiltrate TerraNova’s factions and bring the corporate crime lords to justice. 

Crack in The Ice

It’s a great setup that never quite reaches a lasting impact. Following the opening cinematic, the story’s told over the radio between the Agency leader and Echo, the leader of the refugee resistance. From what I understand, Crackdown’s always been light on story, so I’m not surprised or disappointed by the lack of story here. Although, a stronger narrative would have contributed to a better sense of purpose in the midst of the mindless action. However, I don’t necessarily hold that against the game, as the emphasis on gameplay is apparent and what I admire most about Crackdown 3 as a player.

The best aspect of Crackdown 3’s gameplay is the somewhat unparalleled level of freedom. Progression’s reminiscent of Breath of the Wild in a world akin to Saint’s Row. The city’s entirely open from the start, and you’re free to tackle any objectives and fight any of the bosses at your leisure. One minute you’re destroying a security faction missile array and next you’re dismantling a toxic chemical facility. Meanwhile, your firearms, explosives, agility, strength, and driving skills all improve as you use them, and weapons unlock by discovering them around the city. It’s easily one of the most satisfying progression systems I’ve ever experienced, as I never hesitated to switch-up my loadout or explore while nicking away at objectives. 

Crackdown 3

I definitely caught the orb bug while I was at it. Once I got a taste of increased agility, I invested hours into leaping around the city in a high-soaring collectathon. Crackdown’s emphasis on verticality certainly spices up the action, but even after hours of brutal combat, I still don’t love the lock-on function. I get it, even a strong sense of aim assist would make hitting targets especially tricky while you’re flying around at high speeds, but strictly locking onto enemies just isn’t satisfying. While it’s necessary here, it feels like a dated mechanic and quickly leads to combat encounters feeling relatively stale. Enemy types vary a bit between factions, but combat felt incredibly repetitive until reaching a high power level at the end of the game, but by then it was too little too late. 

Great Last Gen Experience

The game world itself is colorful and packed with towering buildings, small neighborhoods, and twisting highways, but ultimately feels pretty lifeless. NPC’s exist, but interactions don’t occur, and you’re essentially instructed on how to feel about the state of the city by the voices in your earpiece. Sure, you’ll free refugees from prisons or a group of thugs from time to time, but I didn’t necessarily care about what I was doing. Objectives litter the map, and I eventually reached a trance-like state of mind as I moved from one to the next until the city was cleared and the bosses vanquished. I admire the system of acquiring intel on bosses to unlock their strongholds, but the battles themselves aren’t remotely memorable.

Crackdown 3

Interestingly, you’re able to swap your agent’s avatar at will. Naturally, I rolled as Daddy Duck himself, Terry Crews, from beginning to end. I’m sure the other agents have their perks, but there’s nothing quite like hearing Crews demand gravity to fuck off for ten hours. Each avatar begins with an allotted skillset. One may have higher driving and explosive skills while another has agility and firearm prowess. It’s a feature I appreciate, but one I never took advantage of.

Crackdown 3 is proof that a 4K resolution doesn’t always equate to a pretty display overall. The graphics are crystal clear, but textures are rather lackluster. I get it, it’s a comic book inspired world, and the art style reflects that design, but it looks dated. Lighting is one of the better visual aspects. Light rays bleeding through gaps between buildings cast some impressive shadows, and the neon glow of the city at night looks excellent. The audio is serviceable at best. Weapons pack an appropriate audible punch, explosions sound intense, vehicles sound the way you may expect, and the music isn’t particularly memorable. The audio isn’t bad, and I don’t even consider the game ugly, it just doesn’t look or sound unique in any way.

Crackdown 3

Wrecking Zone, Crackdown 3’s fully destructible multiplayer mode recently became available, so, unfortunately, I haven’t experienced enough of it to provide final impressions. However, the little time I spent with it at a recent preview event suggests it has the potential to be one of the more interesting features of the game overall. The cloud-powered destruction is pretty remarkable to behold, but the game modes themselves severely lack inspiration and my concerns with the game’s mechanics remain. I’m ultimately disappointed that destruction didn’t make the final cut of the campaign. Years ago, the tech demo showing it off was what initially garnered my interest in the game. We’ll share an impressions piece of our multiplayer reactions once we’ve experienced all Wrecking Zone has to offer.

Overall, Crackdown 3 feels like an Xbox 360 title running in 4K. In small doses, the action’s a lot of fun. I love jumping around the city and blowing stuff up, but I can’t imagine this is the follow-up fans deserve. I hate to say it, but Crackdown 3 would more than likely pale in comparison to other open world games released over a decade ago like Infamous, Prototype, and Borderlands. It’s not awful or even all that boring, but the gameplay isn’t anything we haven’t already experienced in the series twelve-year history. Bear in mind I’m brand new to Crackdown, so my response may significantly juxtapose the feelings of a long-time fan. There are some memorable moments of humor and gnarly action, but in the end, I won’t remember much of my time spent with Crackdown 3. 

***Xbox One Review code provided by Microsoft***

The Good

  • Fun, frenetic action
  • Total freedom and satisfying progression
  • Terry Crews

The Bad

  • Gameplay lacks innovation
  • Uninspired world
  • Lackluster visuals